The Informant( from 1 reviews )
PublisherYale University Press
Publication date11 May 2005
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11 May 2005
Yale University Press
An FBI’s informant’s role in the murder of a civil rights activist by the KKK is explored in this “suspenseful and vigorously reported” history (Baltimore Sun).
In 1965, Detroit housewife Viola Liuzzo drove to Alabama to help organize Martin Luther King’s Voting Rights March from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. But after the march’s historic success, Liuzzo was shot to death by members of the Birmingham Ku Klux Klan. The case drew national attention and was solved almost instantly, because one of the Klansman present during the shooting was Gary Thomas Rowe, an undercover FBI informant.
At the time, Rowe’s information and testimony were heralded as a triumph of law enforcement. But as Gary May reveals in this provocative book, Rowe’s history of collaboration with both the Klan and the FBI was far more complex. Based on previously unexamined FBI and Justice Department Records, The Informant demonstrates that in their ongoing efforts to protect Rowe’s cover, the FBI knowingly became an accessory to some of the most grotesque crimes of the Civil Rights era—including a vicious attack on the Freedom Riders and perhaps even the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
A tale of a renegade informant and a tragically dysfunctional intelligence system, The Informant offers a dramatic cautionary tale about what can happen when secret police power goes unchecked.